CRARYVILLE–At its monthly meeting October 18, the Taconic Hills School District Board of Education approved several spending resolutions for a new school bus communications system and repairs to the cooling system and auditorium sound system. The board also adopted policy changes on student conduct and charges for school meals.
The board approved a contract with Goosetown Enterprises, of Congers, NY, to rent 36 radios for $1,262 a month. Although the fee is $100 more a month compared to last year’s contract with another vendor, district Transportation Supervisor Richard Viebrock assured the board that the new contract is “considerably better” because the radios are new and maintenance services are included. Mr. Viebrock added that the district will receive trade-in value on the old radios and can test the new system for 30 days.
The board also approved spending up to $19,000 to repair the auditorium sound system, which has been down since the summer, and spending up to $18,000 to repair the two chillers that cool the district’s buildings. Director of Facilities Nicholas Smith reported that a damaged oil seal on chiller #1 resulted in the loss of $7,000 worth of refrigerant and that the other chiller requires a new circuit board, which costs $7,100.
Mr. Smith also advocated for investing up to $900,000 to replace and upgrade the chiller system. He listed the advantages such as an additional 12-15 classrooms cooled, savings from reduced oil consumption, and an overall lower carbon footprint. He added that payback on the investment would be 20 years.
The expenditure would require voter approval and state review. The current chillers, purchased in 1999, are reaching the end of serviceability and over the past two years have required $60,000 in repairs.
Taconic Hills students may now wear hats when they enter school and in building corridors, according to conduct policy changes adopted by the board. School board President Christine Perry remarked that it is “more welcoming in the morning” rather than being told to “take off your hat.”
In other business:
• Cook Manager Pamela Strompf reported that the district meets the 40% threshold to participate in the federal Community Eligibility Program, which underwrites costs for school meals. Reaching the 40% mark allows every student in the district to receive subsidized meals. Ms. Strompf anticipates receiving official notification from the federal Department of Education by April 1, 2018. However she warned that the Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has advocated for increasing the threshold to 60%
• The board also approved changes to its policy on charging students for school meals intended to avoid shaming students who are overdue on their meal accounts. The district has set up a fund to accept donations to erase student meals debt. To date the fund has $420
• Taconic Hills is hosting the Area All State Festival for music students November 17 and 19. Thirteen THSD students are among the 325 participants from Ulster, Dutchess, Putnam and Columbia counties. According to Choir Advisor Rebecca Miller the festival is very competitive and participants are challenged to sight sing a piece they have not rehearsed.
The next meeting of the Board of Education is scheduled for Wednesday, November 15 in the Board Room at 6:30 p.m.